International general aviation gathers in Toronto: The threat of user fees

June 22, 2006

23rd IAOPA World Assembly
Introduction
User fee threat
Improving public perception of "those little airplanes"
The "Meigs Field of Canada"
Safety and technology, and the power of numbers
World action

The threat of user fees

Andy Cebula

AOPA Executive Vice President of Government Affairs Andy Cebula, one of four AOPA executives to make presentations to the GA delegates from around the world, outlined the U.S. user fee battle.

And he countered some of the propagandizing fiction currently being spread by U.S. airlines and other proponents of user fees. For example, while the propagandists claim that the U.S. air traffic control system is inefficient because of congressional oversight of both management and funding, our air traffic control is in fact the safest and most efficient in the world.

"The United States has nine times more departures than second-place United Kingdom, four times more airports than second-place Brazil, and more than two thirds of all of the general aviation aircraft in the world," said Cebula. "On average, a U.S. controller handles almost twice as much traffic as a controller in user fee-funded Canada and seven times as many airplanes as a German controller."

But the U.S. ATC system has the lowest cost per IFR operation of any major system in the world. More airplanes handled more efficiently and safely at a lower cost than any other system.

Then Canadian Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (COPA) President Kevin Psutka outlined the impact of user fees on GA in his country. While a typical Cessna 172 owner in the United States might pay $90 a year in aviation fuel taxes into the aviation trust fund, the typical Canadian owner pays $225 in fuel taxes and user fees. And small GA aircraft pay user fees, whether or not they actually use the ATC system. Meanwhile, new daily operation fees have been added for GA at Canada's seven busiest airports. And while GA pilots are paying more in Canada for a privatized, user fee system, the service is no better.

Next: Improving the image of "those little airplanes."

June 22, 2006